Wescolite (Dillon, Mont) 1949-2009, February 16, 2005, Image 9
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The Wescolite Student Newspaper Community News February 16, 2005 Meth Free Montana: Bringing drug education, prevention to Beaverhead County By Emily Bolles ■ Meth Free M ontana’s Southwest Chapter is work ing to educate Beaverhead County residents about methamphetamine use, its users and how it is entering the com munity. Just over one year ago a meth re lated suicide by a UM-W student brought individuals in the Student Life Office to action. “We wanted to know what we were up against.” Nicole Hazelbaker said. Learning more spurred action and involvement in the group M eth Free M o n tana who teaches that the best defense is pre vention. Hazelbaker, president of the Southwest chapter says, “We will edu cate, help and prevent. We will help users get the help they need.” Methamphetamine is a concoction of ingredients that may include rub bing alcohol, brake cleaner, ether (en gine starter), drain cleaner, salt, lithium, anhydrous ammonia (farm fertilizer) and a host of other ingredi ents. The final form, identified by its color and or texture can be taken in a variety of ways including, smoked, injected and snorted. According to Senator Max Baucus, in 2002 Montana sat eighth in the nation for meth use. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, \meth has become the most danger ous drug problem of small-town America. Traffickers make and dis tribute the drug in some of our country’s most rural areas. Twelve to fourteen year olds that live in smaller towns are 104% more likely to use meth than those who live in larger cities.” With Dillon’s population fall ing into the small town category resi dents are educating themselves. “The sad thing w ith m e th,” Hazelbaker said, “for most people, the first time they use it, they are addicted. It takes years to get clean.” Meth isn’t limited to typical drug users. Profes sional people, truck drivers, young people, moms and dads are involved. Hazelbaker stated that, \100 per cent of people who confess to using meth started on the gateway drug: al cohol.” Individuals start taking meth for a variety of reasons: recreational partying, weight loss, for energy, curi osity or peer pressure. According to the Office of National Drug Control, initially a user experience “increased energy and alertness and decreased ap petite...” Those effects are accompa nied with a rush. Within a short pe riod of time more drug is required for the same effect. Withdrawals includ ing “depression, anxiety, fatigue, para noia, aggression and intense craving for the drug...” and the Office of Na tional Drug Control indicated long term psychotic symptoms may also be a result. The effects on the human body are staggering.“They age quickly. I know some meth users who have died who were organ donors, their organs weren’t usable.” Hazelbaker added. Methamphetamine use, according to Discover Films, carries with it a list of long term effects including, but not limited to, addiction, paranoia, hallu cinations, deep depression which fre quently results in suicide, anorexia, convulsions. It scars the body causing permanent kidney damage, possible heart attack, stroke, permanent brain damage and can result in death. The Drug Enforcement Administration stated in the Fact Sheet publication that: “Recent studies have demon strated that meth causes more damage to the brain than alcohol, heroin or cocaine.” Discovery Films dispells myths re garding meth. It has been suggested that a small dose won’t harm an indi vidual and can be used as a tool to aid in the ability to stay awake and have more energy. Contrary to popular be lief, \there is no such thing as a ‘small safe dose.' The biggest risk of meth amphetamine is that you have no way of knowing how much or what you are getting when you use meth in any form.” Another myth is that using meth is a personal issue, since users believe it is harming only them. Everyone is affected by a person with a meth ad diction. The person affects family, friends and the general community in the neverending search for more meth. They can steal,become violent, or turn to criminal activities to support their addiction. According to Hazelbaker, “The ma jority of crimes have a connection with meth use.” Addicted users reach a point where they will steal and hock anything they can get their hands on. On the evening of February 15, community members received train ing geared towards retail owners, managers and employees selling prod ucts that can be included in the illegal manufacturing of meth. Ingredients and equipment were identified and discussed. Retail personal were edu cated regarding product placement. Hazelbaker suggested, “For example, maybe a business has noticed that tons of matches have been stolen,” they learned at the training that matches contain red phosphorus, a meth ingredient. Businesses will also learned how to work closer with law enforcement and help prevent meth in the community. On March 15 at 7:00pm there will be a community meeting hosted by Meth Free Montana focusing on the legal rights and responsibilities of in dividuals impacted by meth use in cluding the families, the user and the entire community. Meetings are typi cally located in the Lewis and Clark room at the UM-W campus. In a final note, Hazelbaker stressed: “The meth problem is not coming from the university.” However it is in Montana, it is in Beaverhead County and we need to be aware of it.\ Meth Free Montana is an avail able resource for anyone seeking help dealing with a meth related problem. Contact Nicole Hazelbaker at 683- 7900 with any questions. Advertise your business in The Wescolite Contact email@example.com In Support of Western we're \Setting the Pace\ in Southwestern Montana Beaverhead Bank 683-8200 Member FDIC